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The Netherlands!

Clogs, Windmills, Banksy and EORNA!


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I've arrived in the land of clogs, tulips, cheese, windmills, canals, bikes, weed, sex trade, Rembrandt, beer and herring sandwiches! A bizarre combination but it all actually works! I'm here for the EORNA (European Operating Room Nurses Assocaiation) conference in The Hague later this week but my first stop is Amsterdam!!!

I'm staying in a gorgeous Airbnb which backs onto a canal (of course!) and is only about a 20 min walk from most of the action!
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Lovely view from my bedroom balcony!

Weather is stunning so I head off to explore! First stop is the Royal Palace, located in Dam Square, which was originally built as a town hall in 1655 and then later used for royalty and parliamentary purposes. Unlike the Russian Winter Palace, which had me obsessing over floors and ceilings this one has magnificent stone work and chandeliers. HMMMM.. Perhaps a career change into 16/17th century interior design??? I think not but fascinating all the same.
Today it's used for official royal functions, state visits and award ceremonies. The Great Hall is huge and has intricate stone work by sculptor Artus Quellijn but on a grand scale! An audio tour takes you around the palace at your own pace, telling you about each room, the paintings, furnishings and its use then and today. King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima are the residing royals here in the Netherlands and are prominent in portraits throughout the entrance hall.
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Another cracking day so I head out early to visit Vondelpark. Similar to Central Park with its huge size it took me a few hours to explore! It covers 120 acres and has 4 restaurants, ponds, open air theatre and a rose garden! It was busy with school groups, cyclists, runners, picnics, children and dogs everywhere! A lovely way to spend the morning!
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I saw the house of Anne Frank but didn't realise you had to book the museum part online in advance so I only got to see the outside which doesn't look that exciting without any info about it. Also, I've never read the book but as my interest in WWII deepens I will go to buy a copy for sure!
But in a nutshell if you haven't heard about it, it's the diary of a young Anne who was kept in hiding from Nazi Germany during the early 1940's . Unfortunately Anne and her sister Margot was captured and died in a concentration camp in 1945, her diary was published in 1947 and translated in over 60 languages and lives to tell her story today.
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Since it was such a gorgeous day I decided to go on a sightseeing canal tour, it was delightful to see Amsterdam from that level. Looking up at all the buildings and going through those low bridges! The 17th century canals are UNESCO heritage listed and stretch more than 100kms, often known as 'the Venice of the north".

I caught up with one of my theatre colleagues from RCH, Anja and her husband Michael. We went for drinks and wandered around the city, so nice to see a familiar face and catch up on news from home! I will meet up with them again in a few days in The Hague for the conference.

Next to explore was the arts/history museums of Amsterdam, they are located in the same area called museum square, handy!
At the Rijksmuseum (translates to the National Museum) the current feature exhibition is Rembrandt, a very popular choice as he was Dutch. It's a stunning building that was opened in 1885 but underwent a 375 million (euro) upgrade over 10 years and was completed in 2013. The Rijksmuseum attracts about 2.2 million visitors per year.
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Located close by is the Van Gough museum, opening in 1973 it is the largest Van Gough collection in the world. It contains 700 letters written by Van Gough as well his paintings and drawings. Van Gough was also a resident of The Netherlands and a popular museum visiting place.
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However, what I went for was an exhibition on at the MOCO (Modern Contemporary Museum of Amsterdam, how that gets MOCO as an acronym I'm not sure?!) featuring the infamous Banksy! If you don't know who Banksy is, that's ok nobody really does! Rumour has it Banksy is really a guy called Robert, who started out as a graffiti artist in Bristol in the early 90's. Now in his mid 40's officially he has never come forward to put a face to his works, defiantly it builds the intrigue! Not to mention the price of his work. Some of his pieces of 'street art' have even been so sought after that part of the walls have been removed so people can keep them!
Banksy's work is edgy to say the least pushing the boundaries often with anti-war messages. He has even painted on live animals in a London exhibition in 2003. He changed the 10 pound note to feature Princess Dianna (instead of the Queen) and threw the counterfeit cash into a crowd!
In 2006 a live elephant was used in an exhibition in LA, the guy is extreme! Nevertheless, the most interesting (and ballsy) I think is a prank he played on the art world! His work called the "balloon girl" in 2018 went under the hammer at the renowned Sotheby's selling for just over a million pounds. Shortly after a shredder hidden within the fame half shredded the newly purchased work and Banksy retitled it "Love is in the bin". Not sure the buyer was initially pleased but it's since revalued at just over 2 million pounds so not a bad return on investment!
Unfortunately many of Banksy's pieces have been painted over, removed or destroyed including some in Melbourne which the council painted over.
Apologies for all the details but as you can imagine no photos could be taken inside so here's one of the building outside and that shredded art!
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Today I head to The Hague on the train for the EORNA conference! It's only just over an hour from Amsterdam and we had some entertaining wildlife onlookers while we stopped to let another train pass! Super cute and super Dutch!
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As soon as I checked in at my hotel I headed for the Australian Embassy to vote! I was already overseas at the time the election was announced and it was a city I was traveling through that had an embassy. I was just so excited, I honestly don't know why, certainly not from a political point! I guess it was just the experience of voting overseas and I'd never had a reason to go to an embassy before! It was not exciting at all, loads of security checks and then just the usual voting papers, without the party preferred guides that tell you where to number the candidates! I did miss the sausage sizzle though! There were so many Aussies waiting to vote, most living abroad for work or travellers like me!
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Formalities done, off to explore!

The Hague is the capital without being the capital, if that makes sense?! The government, world forum (EORNA venue), foreign embassies, Supreme Court and even the King and Queen are here (most of the time). Various EU headquarters are here and also the UN justice courts.
In the centre of town is a large lake called Hofvijver where the very elegant state parliament buildings are. The collective of buildings is called Binnenhof and they are stunning!
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It's the day before the conference and I'm feeling tired to be honest. Just a bit pushed to see more and more everyday, exhausted from touring and moving around every few days the last couple of weeks. So I needed some time out today and I took myself down to the beach and it definitely filled my cup! I came to one of the beach front cafes and sat for a few hours, soaking up the sunshine. Just what I needed. I took a long walk along the foreshore to the pier and back.

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I had time to go over the conference agenda and pick out what sessions to attend and many Australian colleagues speaking too! I joined with my RCH colleague Anja and we attended the opening welcome of the conference. I met up with old friends as well, which was lovely! When I went to Boston in 2017 I met Marija who was an operating room nurse from The Netherlands, she then came to Australia the following year and visited RCH. We caught up in Nashville a few weeks ago and I'm so happy to now be in her country and seeing her again. Defiantly made some great networking connections around the world!
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Here's some of our Australian crew presenting!
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No surprise that I was particularly interested in attending the sessions on sustainability, keen to learn what other countries are initiating and some of their statistics. Interestingly the data presented by an OR nurse from Turkey showed use of linen to be one of the highest 'waste' streams. I wasn't able to chat with the presenter to obtain if this was measured in sterilising costs and the pros/cons of disposable vs reusable. Also I'm unsure of how widely available disposable or single uses drapes for example are in countries like Turkey. Another presentation by an OR nurse from the USA was interesting. Discussing the concept of The Global Goals of Sustainable Development" and how we as OR nurses can attribute in our daily practices. More food for thought and work to be done to reduce our carbon footprint. Overall an interesting conference and I look forward to attending again, Norway 2020.
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I've loved my time here and so nice to catch up with colleagues and friends, but I must keep moving! One last drink with Anja before I go!
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Off to Brussels tomorrow for some Belgian chocolate!!!
Much love,
L xx

Posted by mslaurajade 06:03 Archived in Netherlands Tagged bridges people canals history travel amsterdam work tourist adventures nursing blog conference sustainability

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